News Release News Release The City of Palo Alto
Communications Department
250 Hamilton Ave
Palo Alto, CA 94301


Subject :

New Statewide Landscape Standards Now in Effect in Palo Alto
Contact : Catherine Cox, Utility Account Representative, Utilities    (650) 329-2417
Joyce Kinnear, Manager, Utility Marketing Services, Utilities    (650) 329-2652
Palo Alto, CA -- In California, nearly half of all urban water use is applied to yards. State law has been amended to require all cities to adopt more stringent water use requirements for landscaping. Residents and businesses in Palo Alto seeking permits that include new or upgraded landscaping are currently required by state law and an ordinance developed by the state's Department of Water Resources (DWR) to meet the new water efficiency regulations. This new requirement went into effect on January 1, 2010.

As of January 1, 2010, the DWR Model Ordinance requires each applicant who is installing new or upgrading current landscaping to submit a Water Efficient Landscape Worksheet with water budget calculations and information about hydrozones, or how much water each part of the yard needs. Final permit approval requires the submission of an irrigation schedule, a schedule of landscape and irrigation maintenance, a landscape irrigation audit report and a soil management report to the City. All automated irrigation systems must be controlled by a weather–based or evapotranspiration (ET) system.

The City of Palo Alto is working on a streamlined and easier to use local ordinance that will be as least as effective as the DWR model to update the City’s existing water efficient landscape ordinance, adopted in 1993. City staff will present a new, streamlined version of the DWR Model Ordinance to the Utilities Advisory Commission in April and to the City Council as soon as possible thereafter. This local ordinance will include water efficiency measures for new or renovated residential landscapes in addition to the City’s existing commercial landscape regulations. Once adopted, the landscape efficiency requirements will be incorporated into the City’s existing Green Building program permit application process. In the interim, the DWR Model Ordinance is automatically in effect, and it will remain so unless and until the City Council approves an updated Palo Alto specific ordinance.

For further questions regarding the DWR Model Ordinance or the City’s proposed local version, contact the City’s Water Conservation Specialist at (650) 329-2417 or read